After attending the first meeting of the Commonwealth's work group meeting yesterday (02/25/22), I offer the following comment:
Focus the Commonwealth's efforts to fill in the gaps not addressed by the NASEM whose work is peer-reviewed.
According to the NASEM website. the scope of their effort is:
"To evaluate the impacts of gold mining in Virginia, with an emphasis on potential impacts of gold mining on public health, safety, and welfare. The committee’s final report will include conclusions and recommendations based on the study.
The study will:
1) Briefly describe the geologic and mineralogical characteristics of the main gold deposits in Virginia, and the types of modern gold mining operations used with comparable deposits in other domestic or international locations.
2) Summarize the Commonwealth of Virginia’s existing regulatory framework for gold mining and processing sites (for example, bonding, reclamation, closure, and long-term monitoring) and compare to other states with current or recently closed gold mining operations. This summary will include a discussion of relevant air and water quality regulations, as well as Chesapeake Bay watershed protections.
3) Evaluate the impacts of potential gold mining and processing operations on public health, safety, and welfare in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
This evaluation will include:
a. Discussion of current gold mining operations at sites with comparable geologic, mineralogical, hydrologic, and climatic characteristics to those found in the Commonwealth,
b. Potential impacts of different leaching and tailings management techniques on downstream communities in the Commonwealth,
c. Whether existing air and water quality regulations in the Commonwealth are sufficient to protect air and water quality, and
d. Whether existing bonding, reclamation, closure, and long-term monitoring of sites for potential gold mining are sufficient to protect air and water quality."
What is missing from the NASEM scope? From the VA Energy website: "The local equity and environmental justice issues, and environmental and human health concerns of the local community."
I urge the work group to not duplicate the efforts of the NASEM. I recommend that the work group consider adding an education component to inform the public (and work group members) of how gold mining processes occur.